I run into the house and search for the green roll holder with the little black top that has been glued on for at least 20 years. If it is not resting on the middle of the table in the place of honor, then it has to be on the counter next to the toaster oven. They just have to be there. If they were still hot I know I could smell them. I can hear Tootsie’s voice, “Come yuh, Baby. I done fix you yo’ baby biscuit.” Beyond her Gullah words are dedicated years to my family of love, care and service. Tootsie’s biscuits are my soul food.
Opening the top is a ritual that spans at least 40 plus years. It is like Christmas Day, the first day of school or your 13th birthday. The contents represent love, respect, tradition-something we fight and die for in the South. I will be so disappointed if the container is empty. I will have to settle for Mrs. Schubert or “whop biscuits”. For those who don’t know about “whop biscuits” think of the sound made when you peel the wrapper and hit the kitchen counter with that cylinder filled with dough. It makes a “whop” sound.
At last, there they are. Piled high and golden brown: Tootsie’s biscuits. And there is yet, there it is, another prize: the baby biscuit. She always remembered to make the left over dough into a bite-size morsel just for me…the last child born to Eleanor and Benjamin Jenkins. The five-month-old child she diapered when she came to work for the first time. My “I Love Lucy” pal, the only woman who could fake-crying and made me stay home instead of finally being rewarded with that Mickey Mouse talking telephone I coveted for years. The woman who I taught how to drive Daddy’s truck that narrowly missed the ditch. The woman who cried with me when my Daddy died. Who held me in her arms when my mother was sick. Some refer to their comfort food as “Soul Food”. I on the other hand refer to food that is good for my soul as Tootsie’s biscuits.
Blessed are those of us who have loving, nurturing folks in their lives like Tootsie. Whatever shape, size or color they make us feel warm and secure. They are there for us. And that little, baby biscuit will be there, too, just for me.